Never a dull moment around where I live.

So I don't know if any of you read my old site (which I've un-password-protected, and also added a redirect to, in case anyone tries to go there by mistake), but if so you may remember a couple of murders happened in my neighborhood. Well, not too far from here police caught a serial killer today.

Yes, I just said serial killer.


Check it out!

Also, thank goodness!

(Also, I don't know how to keep you on my old site to actually have time to read the links from there that I put above. Sorry about that. If anyone else knows, can you clue me in?)

I'm All Written-Out

A major part of my job is writing, especially around this time of year when all of our final reports are due. Therefore I've been writing for 3 weeks, spending 10 hour days doing it, and even writing more on the weekends. I finished my biggest report this morning, but I still have to do a lot of writing tomorrow for another project. I like to write, very much in fact, but I'm pretty sick of it right now.

So here are the other things going on in my life, besides writing:

1. Aaron's sick (exactly when I finished being so), so I'm kind of having fun taking care of him, which would be much more fun if my digestive system wasn't acting up making me feel like vomiting at random, inopportune times. (Jeez, could I whine any more?) (Also trying not to read into the nausea, so don't remind me.)

2. I ordered a cheese quesadilla at lunch today with "a couple" of jalepenos. Apparently, "a couple" equals about 20 to the girl working behind the counter. I couldn't feel my mouth for about half of the afternoon.

3. I'm very much looking forward to football starting this weekend. This will last for about a month, maybe, before I'm over it again.

4. I really want to eat this. Or maybe this. Oh, and definitely this.

5. I'm trying to stay up until at least 9 tonight before I fall asleep, but I'm coming incredibly close to losing that battle.

A quick question:

Does anyone else's husband refuse to acknowledge bodily functions actually exist? Well, besides burps?

Sharing a Must-Read

“Yes, that’s right. He is against making people pay more for cigarettes. He is for keeping more poor children uninsured. Next, he will approve a new holiday: National Kick Floppy-Eared Puppies Day. Watch for it!”

Monday Meal Planning

A Day Early because I Have No Freaking Time! Edition

I'm busy this week. Like, working 12-hour days, I worked 6 hours on Sunday, I can't think about anything but work for the rest of the week, busy. (Needless to say, posting will probably be light again this week.) Throw in a mid-week book club meeting, the news that more family is fleeing to Florida, and a growing waist-line that implies that I should just maybe use that gym membership once in a while, and also the fact that I FREAKING HAVE A HORRIBLE HEAD COLD!!!!!! (sorry for yelling, I'm just frustrated), and I may just lose it.

But, a girl's still got to eat, right? Even if her husband does do the shopping and cooking for most of the week. So here's what he'll be cooking me (isn't he sweet?):

Monday: Bow-ties & Broccolini, Garlic bread

Funny story - I had left this magazine sitting on the bathroom counter because I was trying out a makeup tip it offered. Aaron apparently was browsing through while he was in there, came out with the magazine turned to the page that had this recipe, and emphatically stated, "We're eating this."

So he gets to cook it. I like how that works out.

Tuesday: Tomato Soup (canned or otherwise - probably canned this week) and Grilled Cheese

Wednesday: Pasta, Pesto, and Peas (recipe below), and a Tossed Salad

So, this is what I'm making for my book club, and if there's some left, then it's also what we're having for dinner. If not, well then I guess we'll just have to go out. Darn. (He'll probably say, then that means that we get to have just salad. Which we'll probably do anyway.)

Thursday: Veggie Burgers (from Mark Bittman’s 101 Simple Meals Ready in 10 Minutes or Less, the veggie burgers are recipe #95), baked sweet potatoes, and sauteed zucchini.

Friday: He is taking me out after this hellish week, no matter how much he complains about spending the money. I deserve it, darn it!

Saturday: This one's tradition! It's the first football game of the year, which means we go all out with our football spread. This means chili (his great-grandpa's secret recipe - yum!), crudite and dip, Crispix mix, and cookies or brownies. Sadly, no one is going to be in town this weekend to enjoy it with us, but that won't stop us. Plus, it also means that I have to plan fewer re-heatable recipes for next week since we'll have leftovers for days.

Sunday: Chicken Fajitas and Mexican Rice

For fajitas, I use a purchased fajita seasoning mix, saute strips of chicken with onions and green peppers, and put it all on tortillas with cheese, sour cream, salsa, and avocado (we like our toppings, what of it?). I make my own Mexican rice instead of using Rice-a-Roni or similar. Here's my super-secret recipe: Make rice according to package directions, except for 1) use 2/3 water and 1/3 jarred taco sauce for the amount of water it calls for, and 2, I throw in a chicken bullion cube when I'm boiling the water. That's it. Aaron loves it, and so do I. Although we might smother it in cheese and sour cream as well. It's like I said before about the toppings.

Voila! Another week of meals done. I impress myself (especially since I've now been writing for approximately seven hours straight).

Here's the recipe for the scrumptious Pasta, Pesto, and Peas:

3/4 lb. Fusilli
3/4 lb. Bow Tie Pasta

Cook according to package directions. When cooked, toss with 1/4 c. olive oil and let cool.

1-1/2 c. pesto
1 (10 oz.) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and dried
3 T. fresh lemon juice

3/4 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1-1/4 c. mayonnaise

and blend until combined.

Mix pasta with this sauce and add:
1/2 c. parmesan cheese
1 1/2 c. frozen peas, thawed
1/2 c. pine nuts, toasted

Cool to room temperature or refrigerate, and serve.
Also, Enjoy!

Taking the cheap way out again

  • Watching the local news this morning; it looks like it was taken over by pre-teens. The regular anchors are on vacation, and the temps look like they're about 12.
  • Do you know what is not fair? Not fair is that some men get better looking with age (I'm looking at you, Brad Pitt), while most women hit the turning point much earlier. I regularly feel like I've passed that point, but I'm hoping I'm back on an incline, looks-wise, because I could use some positive self-image stuff. Gaining 10 pounds since the beginning of the year is not helping.
  • Aaron and I have talked a lot about what I should and shouldn't do during pregnancy ever since we decided to quit using birth control. And the things that I should and shouldn't do while we're trying, even. Among these things, he thinks that I should be able to drink a glass of wine as needed while we're trying, but if I even go near a can of diet soda he freaks. At least he has priorities, I guess. (I also guess that I won't tell him about the diet coke I chugged yesterday to help me keep working for that extra hour.)
  • I am going to be working a lot of extra hours this week and next (I've already worked an extra hour for each of the past two days). It's going to suck, but when it's over? I'm going to be asking Aaron to approve me spending money on a massage. Because I need one. September is not going to be fun either, but after September my co-workers and I are going out for a nice meal and a bottle of wine. Or two.
  • I had to delete a post the other day because I messed up the order of posts by doing a draft post and then posting something else afterwards, and blogger doesn't let you change the order of things. Grrr....anyway, here's the text of that post, mostly because I wanted to share the fun links (it was a short one):

This whole weekend my brain has a singular obsession: cake. I've been thinking about cake for approximately 60 hours. All kinds of cake, all sizes of cake, all forms of cake. Just all of it.

This obsession is being caused by two things: 1) I have to make a cake for a baby shower, and 2) this cake pan that I has been on my mind for approximately 30 of those 60 hours ever since seeing it on Not Martha. Seriously. I've even had dreams about it. I've never felt this way about a cake pan, and I don't know why I'm obsessed.

Other cake ideas I'm obsessed with include a variation on petit fours, and a mad hatters cake.

I guess the only way to cure this obsession is to get in to the kitchen and start baking.

Monday Meal Planning will be back tomorrow. Are you excited? I bet you're excited. You look excited.

Monday Meal Planning

Weekend of Parties Edition

This coming weekend is going to be busy, busy, busy. On Friday is my company picnic, and I'm on the planning committee which means I get paid for a day of putting together a party. Talk about my dream job! Then on Saturday we have two more parties - Aaron's company picnic, and a couples' shower for some good friends.

On to the meal plan!

Monday: Skillet Tamale Pie (see recipe below), fruit salad

Tuesday: Kielbasa, Special Mashed Potatoes, Steamed Green Beans

Kielbasa - we usually slice this into 1/4 inch thick pieces and throw them into a skillet to brown.

Special Mashed Potatoes: These are mashed potatoes that I doctor up with whatever I have available in the fridge. Boil potatoes as you usually would to make mashed potatoes from scratch. This time I'll probably add: a dollop of sour cream, 1/4 stick butter, low-fat ranch dressing, cheddar cheese, and sliced green onion tops.

Wednesday: Big Salad and rolls

Thursday: Breakfast for dinner! Dill Feta Scramble, turkey sausage, and apple, grape and celery salad

For the dill feta scramble, scramble eggs with feta and fresh dill, cut a whole wheat pita in half and stuff with the scrambled eggs. for the salad, toss chopped tart apple, halved grapes, and chopped celery with white vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, and toasted pecans. (Source of both these recipes: Martha Stewart Everyday Food, September 2007)

Friday: My company picnic - possibly a curry rice salad if I can get the recipe from my aunt (if I can I'll post it here) (**UPDATE: Here's the recipe**), or some black and white cupcakes with raspberry buttercream frosting. Mmmm....that's for sure a hard decision, because both are delicious.

Saturday: Aaron's company picnic - Apple Stuff (this is just an apple pie made in a sheet cake pan, so it's thinner, and then you drizzle it with a simple powdered sugar glaze and cut it into bars). Also the costume party, but they're providing the food.

Sunday: Chicken Parmigiano Soup and salad

Bake: Aaron wanted something savory this week, so I'll be making cheese straws, his favorite.


Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen recipe

1 to 2 Tbsp canola oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 Tbsp chili powder

2 medium cloves garlic, minced

1 pound ground round or sirloin

1 (15 ½ oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 (14 ½ oz) can diced tomatoes, drained

3 oz. 2% cheddar cheese, shredded (1 cup)

2 Tbsp. cilantro, chopped fine*

salt and pepper to taste

Cornbread topping:

¾ c. all-purpose flour

¾ c. yellow cornmeal

3 Tbsp sugar

¾ tsp baking powder

¾ tsp baking soda

¾ tsp salt

1 egg

¾ c. buttermilk**

2 Tbsp butter, melted

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat to 450 degrees.***

For the tamale filling, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat; add the onion and chili powder and cook until the onion is softened. Stir in the garlic and cook about a minute.

Stir in the ground beef, beans and tomatoes and bring to a simmer, breaking up the meat with a spoon. Cook about 5 minutes. Stir inn the cheese and cilantro and season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour into a greased 9x13 baking dish.****

For the cornbread topping, combine all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Add the remaining ingredients, stirring until the mixture is just combined.

Dollop the cornbread batter evenly over the filling and spread into an even layer. Bake until the cornbread is cooked through in the center, about 10-15 minutes. Serve hot.

*I either omit this or substitute flat-leaf parsley because I’m not a big cilantro fan

**I use sour milk if I don’t have any buttermilk on hand, which can be made by putting 2 tsp lemon juice into a liquid measuring cup and filling it up to ¾ c. line. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes before adding to the dish.

***The woman who shared this recipe suggested instead of 450 you should heat the oven to 400 so that the center of the cornbread topping sets up better. You’ll just need to adjust the cooking time accordingly.

****You can stop here if you want to prepare ahead of time. Just cool, cover, and then freeze the filled dish. To finish, remove the dish from the freezer before work/in the morning and place it into the refrigerator. When you are ready to cook it, mix the cornbread topping and follow the recipe from there.

Everybody Loves Bullets

  • Starting off on a down note; I feel so sad about the continuing problems at the mine in Utah. 11 days and a new tragedy in the same place. So sad.

  • On a totally different note, I got a handheld PC yesterday at work. It's an older version/hand-me-down from my boss, but it's still a lot of fun. And it has wireless internet and games. I may be a total geek, but I've been having a lot of fun with it since yesterday morning.

  • I have two goals right now. 1)Lose weight (2 sizes preferably) 2)Get pregnant. I'm guessing I'll get one or the other, not both.

  • Lesson learned yesterday after a delicious lunch: beans are good for my diet, but not for my marriage.

  • We still haven't decided on costumes yet, and we have just over a week left till we have to dress up. I'm hoping Aaron's procrastination tendencies are at work here and he'll have to cave and use my idea because we've run out of time. Am sneaky like that.

  • My husband is hot. That is all.

  • Have you ever seen the books "The Book of Bunny Suicides"? They are shockingly funny, as in people are shocked by the horrible things that are drawn in that book, but they also can't help but laugh. Hard.

  • I think I may start a "couch to 5k" program, because I want to be able to run. I may blog about it if I start so that I'm held at least somewhat accountable.

I want a vacation

However, the next planned roadtrip is to my husband's work picnic. So not a vacation.

In other, unrelated news, I need a costume idea for a couple's shower coming up in a couple of weeks. Aaron and I need to dress up as a famous couple or pair. I think we should dress up as PB& J, meaning Aaron wearing a white shirt with peanut-butter colored "PB" and me with a white shirt with a purple/red "J", and I'd bring jelly-filled peanut butter cookies with us. Aaron says no to this, but I'm saying that unless he comes up with something better, that's what we're doing.

Unless, of course, one of you has an awesome idea that I could use. If so, please share. I'm so not creative with costumes.

P.S. My officemate's initials are PB and mine are both J, so we are, in fact, PB & J. Also nerds.

I also dreamed about cleaning the house, but am ignoring that dream

Since May, when Aaron and I finally started trying for a baby, I've been dreaming about telling people that, no, I'm not pregnant yet. I've been having about 2 of those dreams a week, and I have to tell you, they're not helping.

Two nights ago, though, I dreamed that I was telling everybody that I'm pregnant (which I'm definitely not at the moment), and not only that, that I'm pregnant with twins.

I'm hoping this positive dream is accompanied with a positive change in attitude, and possibly a positive pregnancy test in 4 weeks.

Monday Meal Planning

Every weekend (well, okay, almost every weekend) I sit down and plan meals for the upcoming week using the sales ad from our grocery store, the latest collection of recipes with which I'm infatuated, and a healthy dose of input from my husband. This week we decided to eat really, incredibly healthily, since over this weekend we ate about a week's worth of calories and cholesterol. Damn that delicious, fattening, free food made by a good friend.

Also, just as a note, we don't usually have leftovers for dinner, because we eat them for lunches. But! If you don't do leftovers for lunch, you could probably cut out a few dinners from this list because there will be plenty of leftovers if you're cooking for two like I do.

Anyway, last night I sat down with all the recipes I tore out of Cooking Light for the year 2006, and started flipping through trying to find yummy, healthy recipes for this week, and I think I've done just that. Let me know if any of the links don't work and I'll send you the recipe instead.

Here goes:

Monday: The Big Salad (can you tell we're Seinfeld fans?) and Rolls
Basically, just throw whatever vegetables you have along with some sort of meat (usually 1/4 thick slice of deli turkey, diced), maybe some cheese (usually feta or queso fresco, Americanized version, which basically means pasteurized). We also really like the Pilsbury frozen dinner rolls. They're flaky and crusty on the outside, which makes them absolutely heavenly.

I also usually whip up a dressing for the salad, so here's my dijon vinaigrette recipe: whisk together 2 parts olive oil, 2 parts red wine or rice wine vinegar, 1/2 part dijon or spicy brown mustard, 1 clove minced garlic, and salt and pepper to taste.

Tuesday: Cajun Quiche in a Rice Crust, with a Bibb-Strawberry Salad

The salad is basically 1 head of bibb lettuce, some strawberries, hulled and quartered, sweet onion, and bottled poppy seed dressing.

Wednesday: Sesame Noodles w/Chicken and leftover Big Salad (minus meat and cheese)

Thursday: Pasta Fagioli Soup, whole wheat english muffins w/garlic butter, and leftover Big Salad (minus meat and cheese)

Friday: Open Faced Falafel Burgers and cucumber salad (recipe found in this post)

Be sure and read the reviews for helpful hints for the falafel burgers recipe; it sounds like the recipe is good but may need a few tweaks to be great.

Saturday: Dinner out. Even I'm not Super-Wife, I can't cook seven days a week.

Sunday: Greek Pasta with Tomatoes and White Beans, leftover cucumber salad, and rolls.

Try this recipe with whole wheat pasta, like Barilla Plus.

Bake: Mudslide Cookies

I try and bake something every week. This is mainly for two reasons. First, I call my husband the Candy Monster, and not without reason. He loves his sweets. Secondly, I love to bake and find it incredibly relaxing, so this is my zen. And these cookies are AWESOME. Sprinkle the finished product with a little powdered sugar to dress them up.

So there you go. Let me know if there are any questions. I'm looking forward to sharing this with you all every week, and better yet, it's a way for me to look back and see what I've cooked for when I'm out of ideas for what to cook.

Enjoy, and happy eating!

It's Sunday Night Again, Already?

Weekends go far too quickly. This weekend was spent in the car, at a friends house eating way too much delicious food and drinking way too much hard cider, seeing a different friend and not getting nearly enough time with that friend, back in the car, and sweating the entire time.

All that in two days, and I'm exhausted. And yet, I can't seem to sit still. There's too much to do for it to almost be the work week again. We didn't even eat dinner tonight. I'm overwhelmed, but I can't afford to take a vacation. Why does being an adult suck so much sometimes? Why can't we have summer break like we did when we were little?

I promise we'd enjoy it more now than we did back then.

Anyway, I thought I'd try a new Monday feature tomorrow - meal plans for the week. I'll post with recipes and/or links wherever possible. So look for it then. Maybe. If my head doesn't explode before then.
I've been thinking a lot about family lately, I think mostly because I'm trying to start one of my own, but also because of things that have happened to people around me. A few people I know are having their first babies after having previous miscarriages. A good friend is having her first baby next month, but after a pregnancy filled with worries. Another friend was half-way along and lost her baby. And yet another friend has her baby after trying for much longer than anyone our age expects to wait.

I've been thinking about my immediate family too. I have two parents who love each other but who are both fiercely independent, who are both scary-smart, and who are excellent role models. I have 2 siblings, a brother and a sister, who are excellent people, and whom I can't imagine life without. But our family almost wasn't made up like this.

My parents wanted three kids and then they were going to be done. About a year after my brother was born, my mom was pregnant again, and our family was about to be complete. Seventeen weeks into her pregnancy, she miscarried. We were all incredibly sad at the time, but looking back, if she hadn't had that miscarriage I likely wouldn't have my sister.

I know that's a weird way of looking at things, but I think that the way families end up are the way they are meant to be. I think that someone out there has a plan and that plan may not always be easy, but it ends up like it is supposed to.

I have to keep telling myself this, because it's hard to be patient when you're trying for a baby. Last night we were walking around downtown and we saw a young woman holding an impossibly small puppy. It was so cute neither Aaron nor I could barely stand it. Lately anything small and cute makes us long for a baby. We both looked at each other and said something along the lines of, "I'm ready for a baby."

It's going to be at least another month before that baby will be on the way, though. I know I don't have it hard, 3 months is barely any time to have to wait, but I'm having a hard time waiting patiently. So I have to keep telling myself - it will end up the way it's supposed to be. Our family will grow when it's meant to be. Why is that so hard to believe?

I can't get two coherent thoughts together to save my life

I made croissants about a month and a half ago, and we just took the ones we froze out of the freezer last night. They were still totally delicious, and I'm thinking the next weekend I'm home (and I have no idea when that may be) I may have to make them.

I had a croissant, strawberry preserves, and a banana this morning for breakfast, and they were all delicious. I was sad yesterday because I've gained almost 10 pounds since the beginning of the year, and that's a lot of weight when you're trying your hardest to maintain or lose weight. Then I got to thinking about it, and I have to not mind for two reasons: 1) Good food is the bright part of my summer right now - work is hellish, we're constantly on the go, and I don't have a minute to relax, and 2) since I already have an iffy stomach, I know that I'll probably be pretty sick when/if I get pregnant, so I might as well enjoy my food while I still can.

OK, I lied. There is one more bright spot - I've been watching Grey's Anatomy on DVD lately (I'm a few episodes into season 2), and I'm loving this show. Although I personally think it's sightly sad that a television show is the highlight of my day.

How to know that your PMS is somewhat in check...

You resist the strong impulse to slam your car into the jerk that passed you in a no passing zone and then cut you off to get back into the lane because he couldn't see the car coming in the other lane, because, you know, NO PASSING ZONE FOR A REASON.

But you really wanted to slam into him.

I don't know if it was my PMS in check or fear of what Aaron would do if I caused an accident on purpose.

I don't care if it is one of the deadly sins

Last night we ate this for dinner. It's ravioli with a portabello filling and a fresh tomato sauce, all of which I made by my very own self. The portabello filling was even my own recipe.

It was delicious and I'll admit: I'm pretty proud of myself.


Here's the recipe!

Portabello Mushroom Ravioli
Source: Mrs. Ca's Brain

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. butter
8 oz. baby portabello mushrooms, finely chopped*
1 small onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 c. bread crumbs
1/2 c. shredded parmesan cheese
1/4 c. shredded romano cheese
1/4 c. chopped Italian (Flat Leaf) Parsley
salt and pepper, to taste

1 package wonton wrappers**
1 egg, beaten well

Heat olive oil and butter in a large skillet. Once butter melts, add onion and saute until translucent, approximately 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute 2 more minutes. Add portabello mushrooms and saute until soft and cooked through, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a medium sized bowl, and cool for approximately 10 minutes.

Add breadcrumbs, cheeses, and parsley to mushroom mixture and stir until well mixed. Add salt and pepper to taste

Assembly: place approximately 1 Tbsp. mushroom mixture in middle of one wonton wrapper. Brush all four sides with egg, place another wrapper on top and press sides to seal.

To cook, place in boiling water for approximately 5 minutes. Remove and top with your favorite sauce.

*You can use full sized portobella caps, but I would probably scrape the black gills from the underside of the cap before chopping it up.

**I think next time I'm going to try to make my own pasta instead of using the wonton wrappers; they were a little thin and stuck together a lot.
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